To some the notion of electronic music can bring to mind repetitive synth and drum loops with very little to distinguish it from whatever else is rattling around in the electronic litter tray that month. Not so with this release from Ketsa, the latest incarnation of London based Musician, DJ and producerDominic Giam.
The literal translation of Al Kemet is from the Western interpretation of Egyptian magic… the phrase from which we draw the word ‘alchemy’ and there’s certainly elements of magic in this release. There are catchy beats aplenty and lots of overlaid piano and vocal samples used to great effect throughout. At times the mood is slow and ponderous but there’s joined up thinking throughout – this album flows as opposed to stopping and stuttering through its runtime.
There are fourteen tracks (plus a hidden number) on offer here and nearly every one of them is quality. Opener ‘Solution’ brings to mind the kind of music Thom Yorke is trying to make when he veers off kilter with his solo efforts. It’s a fantastically low-key opener with staggered piano loops over a catchy breakbeat. Other tracks of note include the trippy goodness of ‘Distillation’, its lightly dusted percussion working really well with a nicely underplayed brass sample. ‘Callination’ is a fantastic track, its slowly meandering percussion builds over squelchy electronic beeps and beats. ‘Purification’ works an eastern sounding vocal sample over an almost Muse-like piece of piano (trust me it works far better than that sounds). In fact, it’s the piano that stands out largely on this album for me. Ketsa tickles the ivories over worked electronica to create some excellent tuneage.
I’m genuinely struggling to come up with an artist to compare Ketsa with, at times on tracks like ‘Multiplication’ Kraftwerk might come to mind, then he turns it on his head with the next song. It’s certainly very different to anything I’ve been listening to lately and in places he produces a sound that is entirely his own. Being able to avoid being easily pigeonholed is generally no bad thing. East meets west is too lazy a generalisation to describe this album – it’s an assured and decidedly different release from someone with very much their own sound. Al Kemet marks Ketsa’s first release on the Invisible Agent label and there’s a confidence and crispness to the meshing of genres at play here that marks out the Londoner as a name to look out for. (The artwork by Cambodian artist Dina Chhan is equally impressive – Ed.)
*Note: Invisible Agent have also made their entire back catalogue free to download. Go here for details –http://www.invisibleagent.com/2012/08/14/entire-back-catalog-is-now-free/.